It’s time to dispel a bit of received wisdom. Celebs with expensive dermatologists do not have an exclusive lease on the “eternal youth” look. Sure, Pharrell looked all of 28 at the Oscars (he’s 43). And sure, his personal grooming regimen is probably advanced well beyond the comprehension of average Joes like you and me. But there nothing to keep us from attaining, say, 75% of his age-defying glow if we develop the habits that reduce damage and increase skin regeneration. Nothing except our own inertia.
Here, we outline the three things every guy can do to slow down the effects of time.
1. Get Dirty—And Keep Clean
Exercise is, of course, one of the best ways to live longer, but it’s also good at helping you look younger. When you sweat, your pores open and release all of the toxins that could potentially clog them. This allows you to excrete what might otherwise lead to breakouts and blemishes.
However, that sweat has an inverse effect as soon as the workout is over. So shower immediately after exercising! (As if you weren’t already.) This will cleanse the skin of the sweat and grime that can clog your pores as they shrink to their normal size. If you can’t shower for some reason, then pack some skin-toning face wipes in your gym bag for a quick and easy wipedown.
While we’re on the topic of showering, we’ve got an important PSA: Turn the temp down. Hot water might open the pores for a healthy shave, but unless that’s the goal, you don’t need to risk drying out your skin. Hot water also washes away a lot of the healthy oils that keep skin soft and nourished. Who knew the fountain of youth was actually just a tepid shower?
2. Invest In Your Grooming Routine
We assume that you’ve got basic skincare regimen down—you know, cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing. To reach the next level of age-defying, you’ll need to invest in some higher performance products.
First of all, your moisturizer should have SPF in it. The fastest way to age your skin is to leave it susceptible to the sun’s harmful, cancer-causing rays. You can prevent that with a proactive dose of broad-spectrum SPF. The best one, hands down, is Clinique for Men’s Broad Spectrum SPF 21 Moisturizer.
Secondly, get yourself a serum. Serums are lightweight, but they’re flooded with skin-saving nutrients and can penetrate all three layers of the dermis (moisturizers sit atop the first layer). Applying a serum after cleansing and before moisturizing allows it to seep into the skin and fortify things from below the surface. The result is a brighter complexion and firmer skin.
The third and best strategy is to get familiar with retinol. It’s a topical form of vitamin A that boosts collagen production and can actually reverse existing signs of aging, while also preventing and slowing others. If you’re applying nightly, you might start to see tangible results as early as three months in, depending on what dose your doctor has recommended. (Some people with sensitive skin take lower doses.) Retinols can dissolve dark spots, minimize wrinkles, keep acne at bay, and shrink enlarged pores. You can find it in night creams—or your dermatologist can write you a prescription for the more heavy duty stuff.
And of course, make sure you get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night, and slap on a retinoid product or night serum of some kind before you settle down. This is the time when your cells regenerate. Don’t cut it short!
3. Adjust Your Diet in the Most Sustainable Way Possible
There are two simple and universal rules that will benefit your complexion long term. The first is to drink lots of water, which keeps the skin hydrated and healthy, prevents breakouts, and keeps the skin firm. Think of your skin as another one of the many organs in your body: It needs lots of water to properly do its job. The second thing is to lessen your sugar intake. Sugar is often the culprit behind breakouts. It leads to increased sebum production, which can clog the pores and nullify any of the efforts you’ve put into having a clear complexion.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to chop it up with your dermatologist. These people know more about other ways that you can adjust your diet to benefit your complexion. There’s a lot you can do, but the right diet is unique to every person (and every microbiome). So get yours custom tailored.